Africa Cup - The oath of Bamako - Sport
Aliou Cisse missed a captain penalty in 2002, costing Senegal's national team victory in the Africa Cup. Now he is back in the final as a coach. And his influence is unmistakable.
The memory always resonates, even in football. And if this Friday in Cairo, the teams of Senegal and Algeria in the final of the African Cup are facing, this is the case in a special way. Unlike the Algerians, who won the continental tournament at least once (1990 in Algeria), the Senegalese can only look back on a final appearance (2002 in Mali). And the memory hurts - especially their coach Aliou Cissé.
At that time, Senegal lost the final of Bamako in the tournament in Mali in the tragic way, the knockout games ready. Against the crew from Cameroon, who then ran aground in the famous sleeveless jerseys and was trained by a man with a blond mane, the former Bundesliga professional Winfried Schäfer.
Cissé, captain of Senegal, could at least have prolonged the penalty shootout. But his weak shot in the left corner Cameroon goalkeeper parried with his foot; Schäfer was allowed to cheer, because it remained so 3-2 for his team. On the sidelines, the blue shirt slipped out of his pants in a rapture of joy, Cissé and his comrades collapsed in the field, you can watch in Youtube videos. What you can not hear is what former Senegalese midfielder Salif Diao told the newspaper L'Équipe entrusted. During the night, Cissé, now 43, made an oath to him: "I had a hand on this cup and it got away from me," the captain said. "But I swear I'll win it for my people, as a player or as a coach."
That he has come closer to this goal as a coach, you can call remarkable. So many African ex-professionals who return to their homeland and try to bring their experience of European professional football as a coach (Cissé played mainly in France) and then also succeed, there is not. Curiously, the case of the final opponent Algeria is similar: even his coach Djamel Belmadi, also 43, is something of a returnee. Belmadi was born in France, in the Paris suburb of Champigny-sur-Marne, where Cissé grew up as the son of Senegalese immigrants. His parents moved there when he was nine, living in a neighborhood just two kilometers from Belmadi's childhood home. However, it was not until 2001 that they met in duels in the first French league between Olympique Marseille, where Belmadi played, and Cissé's club Paris Saint-Germain. Barely a year later, Cissé was involved as the captain of the Senegalese in the most surprising success of his country: At the World Cup in Japan and Korea Senegal won 1-0 against France, the world champion of 1998.
Belmadi was not quite as successful as Cissé as a national player, 2004, he took at least an African Cup in part. But: The fact that the Africa Cup in Cairo now brings together the two "neighbors" causes a rare constellation. For the first time since the finals in 1998 (Egypt-South Africa, 2-0) two African head coach sitting in the finalists on the bench. In 31 African Cup final games won 16 teams with non-African coaches.
Cissé had taken over the coaching role in 2015 from Frenchman Alain Giresse, whom he now eliminated in the semifinals, Senegal won against Tunisia. If you were able to attest to Cissé after this game, then most of all: he has provided for outstanding discipline. Senegal had to concede only one goal in the tournament, in the group match duel against Algeria (0: 1). Cissé has also created a climate of cohesion that seems to go beyond normal.
The best indication for this is the accommodation. While the Algerians stay in a five-star hotel in Kairos, the Senegalese have spent four weeks in a neighborhood with a school hostel atmosphere. The Spartan Logis, which fully reflects the image of Cissé as a grinder, did not detract from its success - although Senegalese are also professionals familiar with the amenities of European club football. Even though not all of them are as big names as Sadio Mané, who became the Champions League winner in the summer with Liverpool FC.
In the final against Algeria Mané is particularly challenged, also because Cissé has to give up one of his most important players. Defender Kalidou Koulibaly (SSC Napoli) is yellow-carded. Mané, 27, has scored three goals and honors his England nickname "the Main Man Mané", he was the outstanding figure in an otherwise footballing only partially brilliant team. Mané missed two out of three penalties awarded to Senegal in the course of the tournament. His dream, the Balloon D'Or However, winning Africa for 2019, the continent's best player award, has made it closer to the African Cup - more than Algerian Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) or Egyptian Mo Salah (Liverpool).
But even bigger is Mané's dream to return to Dakar with the Africa Cup. He would give anything, even trade the Champions League Cup, he confided to the magazine France football before the tournament. Because he knows that he would make the memory of Mali 2002 probably forgotten.